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Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA  02140




Creating More Victims

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Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights

For Immediate Release: December 10, 2006 


Family members, especially children, suffer in the aftermath of an execution

 Contact: Renny Cushing, 617-930-5196;

Susannah Sheffer, 617-512-2010;

 Cambridge, Mass. – Families of the executed are victims too, according to a new report that Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights will release on December 10.  “Creating More Victims: How Executions Hurt the Families Left Behind” draws upon the stories of three dozen family members of people executed in the United States and demonstrates that their experiences and traumatic symptoms resemble those of others who have suffered a violent loss. 

 “I don’t think people understand what executions do to the families of the person being executed,” says Billie Jean Mayberry, one of the family members featured in the report.  Mayberry’s brother, Robert Coe, was executed in Tennessee in 2000. “To us, our brother was murdered right in front of our eyes.  It changed all of our lives.”   

Children, in particular, suffer as they struggle to understand a relative’s death at the hands of the state.  “What impact does this event have on children’s impressionable lives, and what cost does society pay for that impact?” asks Robert Meeropol, another survivor featured in the report.  Meeropol’s parents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, were executed in New York when Meeropol was 6 years old. 

 As a victims’ organization, Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights (MVFHR) researched and published the report to highlight the similarities between the experiences of survivors of homicide victims and survivors of people who are executed. “Family members of the executed are the death penalty’s invisible victims,” said Renny Cushing, executive director of MVFHR.  “With each execution, we create a new grieving family who experience many familiar symptoms of trauma, some of them long-lasting.  As a society, what are we doing to address the suffering of these families?”

 “Creating More Victims” includes recommendations for mental health professionals, educators, and child welfare advocates.  MVFHR also plans to deliver the report to the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights and request that that office undertake further study of the impact of executions on surviving families. 

 For a copy of the report, and to speak directly with family members of the executed, contact Susannah Sheffer, 617-512-2010,  For more information about MVFHR, visit



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